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Cairo festival canceled over Israeli film

French foreign minister decides to call off event organized by French Embassy's cultural center in Egypt following judges' decision to remove film directed by Israeli woman

Smadar Peri Published: 04.04.10, 08:18 / Israel Culture

An Israeli short comedy film has sparked a political-cultural storm between Egypt, France and Israel.

The film, 'Almost Normal,' was directed by Keren Ben-Rafael, an Israeli woman who studied in the La Fémis state film school in Paris. It was slated to take part in the "Rencontres de l'Image" festival organized by the French Embassy's cultural center (CFCC) in Cairo from April 8 to 15.

The movie tells the story of a 12-year-old boy which his brithday is also the annual memorial day for his relative who was killed in duty.

Two weeks ago, the Egyptian panel of judges found out that the film was directed by an Israeli. One of the judges, filmmaker Ahmed Atef, announced his resignation last week. In response, the French cultural center in Cairo decided to remove the Israeli film from the festival.

But that was not the end of the affair. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was informed about the incident and ordered the cultural center's managers to put 'Almost Normal' back on the list of participating films.

"If this movie was found to be valuable, it must not be boycotted only because of the director's origin," the French foreign minister ruled.

The Egyptians refused to accept the decision. "If the Israeli film is screened despite our objection, we'll all quit," the entire panel of judges declared, explaining that they were against "any cultural cooperation with Israel".

Kouchner then issued another a new instruction. "As this film appears to be causing trouble, there is no point in holding the festival in Cairo," he said, and canceled the event.

Three years ago, another Israeli film – "The Band's Visit – was removed from Egypt's international film festival due to the organizers' "objection to normalization".

Click to view image: 'f2f77c9b5475-250hayalimron.jpg'

Click to view image: ''Almost Normal' Photo: Ella Spector'

Added: Apr-4-2010 
By: aydeo
Middle East
Tags: Cairo, Festival, Canceled, Israeli, Documentary Film, Kouchner
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